Commentary: Colin Powell gained respect and admiration throughout the world

Colin Powell

Commentary: Colin Powell gained respect and admiration throughout the world
November 10
13:47 2021

By Dr. James B. Ewers Jr.

“If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue, or walk with kings nor lose the common touch…” 

That excerpt is a part of the time-honored poem, “If” by Rudyard Kipling.

I believe this poem fits the life and times of Colin Powell. This four-star general passed away from COVID-19 complications on Oct. 18 at the age of 84. He was vaccinated.

To say that General Powell lived an enriched and successful life is an understatement. His contributions to this nation will live on forever. While Secretary Powell was an American hero, he was also a world ambassador.

Integrity, high ideals and standards were more than just lofty words to him. He lived them on an everyday basis.

His homegoing celebration was held last Friday at the Washington National Cathedral in Washington, D.C. His funeral was attended by former presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama. Hillary Clinton, former secretary of state and first lady, was also in attendance.

So family, friends and dignitaries were there to say one last and final farewell to this world leader.

Colin Powell’s son, Michael, in eulogizing his dad, said, “Colin Powell was a great leader because he was a great follower. He knew you could not ask your troops to do anything you were unwilling to do yourself.”

He added, “His zest for life was driven by his endless passion for people. He was genuinely interested in everyone he met.”

Colin Powell was of Jamaican heritage. I proudly share this Jamaican heritage with him.

His work ethic was undeniable and contagious. It was universally known he made others around him better. It was often said that he went out of his way to make sure that Army privates felt valued and needed.

General Powell never let politics get in the way of doing his job. He supported both Democrats and Republicans. He advocated and believed in the power of people and not in the fleeting power of political parties. His vote was not taken for granted by either party.

Over his lifetime, Secretary Powell held many military positions. He was the first African American Secretary of State and also served as the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Madeleine Albright in her eulogy said, “On policy, the general and I didn’t always reach the same conclusions. And in fact, he would later recount that one of my comments almost gave him an aneurysm. But over the past quarter century we also became very close friends.”

It is my belief Colin Powell was always able to provide rational suggestions and solutions to complex problems. His wise counsel to presidents made for fewer problems and stronger positions for this country in the world.

The history books will remember General Colin Powell as a statesman and a diplomat. These titles were well earned.

There are untold numbers of military personnel who see him as a role model. They have made an excellent choice.

In the coming months and years, there will be many commemorations in honor of Colin Luther Powell. Schools, colleges and social justice centers will bear his name. Scholarships and endowments will have his name attached to them.

His name will be revered and held in high esteem.

Our hearts are heavy, yet we are thankful and eternally grateful that Colin L. Powell passed this way. His labor was not in vain.

America will miss him.

James B. Ewers Jr. Ed.D. is a former tennis champion at Atkins High School in Winston-Salem and played college tennis at Johnson C. Smith University, where he was all-conference for four years.  He is a retired college administrator.  He can be reached at

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